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Steidinger Scholars

The Steidinger Scholars program was established in honor of Dr. Karen Steidinger, a world-renowned pioneering woman in harmful algal bloom research and a formative figure in the history of FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI). Dr. Steidinger’s career includes numerous significant contributions to dinoflagellate research, which have been acknowledged by her peers through the naming of the organism that causes red tides in Florida, Karenia brevis, after her.

The goal of the Steidinger Scholars program is to inspire students to explore careers in fisheries and wildlife research through experiential learning. Successful applicants participate in 3-month long part- to full-time paid internships during summer, fall or winter terms. Mentored by FWRI scientists, future investigators work on a variety of projects that inform the protection, conservation, and management of Florida’s fish and wildlife resources.

The program is open to all recent high school graduates or new college students (years 1-2) of all genders from all backgrounds, cultures, and experiences. Successful candidates will have the ability to work in a team environment, adapt to changing work environments and priorities, and work in a range of settings including office, laboratory and outdoors in all weather conditions. Duties/tasks are position specific to the opportunity but include:

  • Direct project activities such as training in and assisting with field and laboratory duties to ongoing research and management projects and programs.
  • Shadowing staff and researchers in a variety of research areas.
  • Participating in training, workshops, and other education and career development planning activities.
  • Presenting on the experience.

Qualifications:

  • All applicants must be a recent or expected high school graduate, or 1-2 year college student by the time of internship start. (Applicants at the Junior or beyond years of study, see other opportunities)
  • Must be 18 years of age or older.
  • Willingness to learn.
  • Good interpersonal and organizational skills.
  • Good written and oral communication.
  • A passion for and interest in science. Prior learning or experience is not required.
  • Must be eligible to work in the U.S. including having a valid social security card.

Women and students from historically underrepresented racial and ethnic groups are encouraged to apply.

Application Package

Applicants must complete the application package and submit to the intern coordinator, including:

  • A cover letter expressing interest in the specific opportunity being applied for; include:
    1. Opportunity #,
    2. why the position is of interest,
    3. what you hope to gain from it,
    4. why you feel you are a good candidate,
    5. dates, days, and hours you are available to work,
    6. your current year of study, and
    7. the date you are available to start work.
  • Multiple applications are allowed but a separate application must be submitted for each opportunity of interest.
  • A letter of support from a past or current teacher of why you are a good candidate for the program (include contact information for this reference).
  • A resume that includes information on experience OR abilities including hobbies, interests, recreational activities.

Submission Deadlines

  • Summer opportunities: 3-months beginning early to mid-May through August will post in early February. Application deadline: Wednesday, March 6, 2024.
  • Fall opportunities (September - December) and Winter/Spring opportunities (January – April) will normally post 2-3 months before start dates.

All positions are paid at an hourly rate of $15/hour.

Housing is not provided.

College credit is possible. Candidates are responsible for checking with your department advisor at your home institution.

Please submit application items as an e-mail attachment to
Interns@MyFWC.com
. Indicate “Steidinger Scholars” and Opportunity number in the subject line.

If electronic submission is not possible, hard copies can be mailed to:
Internship Coordinator “Steidinger Scholars”
FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute
100 Eighth Avenue SE
St. Petersburg, FL 33701-5020

Steidinger Scholars Positions Summer 2024

Fish and Wildlife Health Research – St. Petersburg
Opportunity #: SS-SU24-07

This opportunity involves field and laboratory work for research and monitoring with the fish and wildlife health team. Participants will gain experience in methods for investigating mortalities and evaluating health of fish, birds, and reptiles. Interns will learn a variety of laboratory skills and techniques including specimen examinations, and microbiological and molecular work. Participants may be involved in other aspects of sample processing including collection from the field, data entry, data processing, and/or data proofing.

Location: St. Petersburg, Florida

Hours: Part-time opportunity (20 hours per week)

Dates: mid-May to mid-August (start and end dates negotiable)

Supervisor: Rebecca Hardman

Tasks: Specific job responsibilities include but are not limited to the following:

  • Assist with necropsies (specimen dissection and health evaluations)
  • Assist with various laboratory tasks including microbiological and molecular work as needed (e.g., DNA extraction and qPCR assays)
  • Assist with field operations
  • Assist with environmental sampling/monitoring, conducting mortality investigations and rarely live animal sampling
  • Maintain a clean laboratory space
  • Assist with data entry, management, and analysis

Freshwater Fisheries – Eustis
Opportunity #: FWRI-SS-SU24-04

This is a great opportunity for a student interested in learning about aquatic plants, freshwater fish, field techniques for collecting research and monitoring data, and the overall purpose of fisheries conservation. Interns will join biologists to sample aquatic plant and freshwater fish communities using a variety of gears, participate in post-sampling lab work, and assist with data entry. Participants will be exposed to a wide range of freshwater research and monitoring projects being conducted in central Florida.

Location: Eustis, Florida

Hours: Part-time (average 20-30 hrs/week)

Dates: May to August (3 months, start and end dates TBD)

Supervisor: Variety of projects with several mentors

Tasks: Specific job responsibilities include but are not limited to the following:

  • Perform aquatic vegetation surveys throughout Florida
  • Work with bass tournaments to estimate bass survival
  • Trailer and operate boats (*requires valid driver’s license)

Freshwater Fisheries – Garcon Point
Opportunity #: FWRI SS-SU24-05

This is a great opportunity for a student interested in learning about freshwater fish and mussels, field techniques for collecting research and monitoring data, and the overall purpose of fish and wildlife conservation. Interns will join biologists to sample freshwater fish and mussel communities using a variety of gears, participate in post-sampling lab work, and assist with data entry. Participants will be exposed to a wide range of freshwater research and monitoring projects being conducted in the Florida panhandle.

Location: Garcon Point, Florida

Hours: Part-time or full-time opportunity available (indicate preference in application letter)

Dates: mid-May to mid-August (start and end dates TBD)

Supervisor: Variety of projects with several mentors

Tasks: Specific job responsibilities include but are not limited to the following:

  • Using acoustic telemetry to locate tagged Alligator Gar, Gulf Striped Bass, and American Eels
  • Electrofishing some of the most diverse freshwater rivers in the state
  • Gill netting for Alligator Gar and Gulf Striped Bass
  • Evaluating habitat suitability for state listed Bluenose Shiner
  • Conducting mussel monitoring and research
  • Trailering and operating boats (*requires valid driver’s license)

Harmful Algal Bloom Research – St. Petersburg
Opportunity #: SS-SU24-03

This opportunity involves laboratory work for research and monitoring focused on harmful algal blooms. Participants will gain experience in methods for molecular identification and culturing of harmful algal bloom species. Molecular work will involve learning methods including sterile techniques for DNA extraction or preparing PCR assays on field or cultured samples. Culture work will involve working with phytoplankton in the lab and tracking their growth. Participants may be involved in other aspects of sample processing including collection from the field, data entry, data processing, and/or data proofing.

Location: St. Petersburg, Florida

Hours: Part-time opportunity (~20-40 hours per week on average)

Dates: mid-May to mid-August (start and end dates negotiable)

Supervisor: Julie Koester Co-supervisor Camden Conte

Tasks: Specific job responsibilities include but are not limited to the following:

  • Following standard protocols to conduct experiments and assays
  • Maintenance of laboratory stock culture and experimental cultures
  • Measurement of fluorescence for growth
  • Performing sterile techniques for culture and molecular assays
  • Processing samples for DNA fingerprinting analyses
  • Writing detailed descriptions of experiments and assays in lab notebook
  • Entering data into spreadsheets and databases
  • Preparing stock solutions and standards
  • Cleaning and maintaining general laboratory spaces

Successful candidates will:

  • Display attention to detail and organization
  • Communicate regularly with their supervisors

Wildlife Research, Crocodilian Research and Management - Gainesville
Opportunity #: FWRI SS-SU24-06

This opportunity is for a highly motivated individual to aid the FWC Crocodilian Research Team with nighttime spotlight alligator surveys. Surveys are conducted during the Spring (May 1st to June 15th) and Summer (July 1st to August 14th) field seasons, and interns will be required to travel around the state to different waterbodies (lakes, rivers, and man-made impoundments) to assist our wildlife biologists’ alligator surveys as data recorder from an airboat or outboard motored boat. During a typical survey night, interns would assist with prepping the vessel for launch, recording data correctly into a tablet form as the vessel operator gives alligator size and count data during the survey over the communications headset, and safely storing equipment after the surveys. A typical work week involves surveys Monday to Thursday nights, usually from around 7:30 PM until ~ 1 AM, excluding the drive back to the hotel or office. When not conducting surveys, participants will work towards earning their Florida boaters card, CPR & First Aid certification through the American Red Cross, and complete agency training for Watercraft & Trailering Safely. Interns will also assist with and learn about equipment maintenance and safety.

*This position often requires late nights and a flexible schedule that is dependent on the changing weather and unpredictable field conditions, and a valid driver license.

Location: Gainesville, FL

Hours: Part-time opportunity (average 30hrs per week Monday to Thursday; shifting schedule for on-site training during days and surveys during evenings typically ending around 1-2AM)

Dates:  May 1 (preferred) – August 14

Supervisor: TBA

Tasks/Position Requirements: The primary responsibilities will be assisting with nighttime alligator surveys in the field, including but not limited to:

  • Travel to and conduct surveys in various freshwater bodies throughout the state
  • Record survey data 2-3 days per week
  • Prepare vessels for launch
  • Maintain and safely store equipment

Successful candidates should:

  • Have an interest in Florida’s crocodilians, wetlands, and wildlife research and management
  • Hold a valid Driver’s License and clean driving record
  • Be comfortable working in remote locations at night, often in adverse conditions (high heat and humidity, flying and biting insects, or poor weather conditions should they arise)
  • Be comfortable lifting up to 50 lbs of gear or equipment
  • Be comfortable using a tablet to record data accurately as it is called out

Steidinger Scholars Flickr Album